Flashflooder’s Top 100 Music Releases of 2013

Another year has passed and it’s time for the roundup of my favorite (i.e., what I think to be the “best”) music releases of the past year, in this case, 2013.

While a whole lot of things went down in the music world last year, I think it’s fair to say that 2013 was a pretty solid and balanced year for music. Sure there were some album releases that you couldn’t stop hearing about no matter where you went (e.g. Daft Punk, Kanye, Arcade Fire), but there were plenty of others that slipped through the cracks and went largely unnoticed, hit minor blog notoriety for a few weeks time, and some that never went beyond their soundcloud and bandcamp comfort zones.

Well, in this past year I can confidently say that I personally listened to more music than any other year and that made the task of coming up with a list of 100 favorite music releases both easier to begin with and more difficult to finish. Having a lot more album names on my spreadsheet throughout the year (yes, I manage them in a spreadsheet) forced me to really think about where I would rank an album and why. And eventhough I will still largely agree that my list (like most others) is pretty arbitrary, I figured I might as well explain my train of thought for kicks and in the case you were curious.

So after years of making these lists I’ve grown more confident in my brain and ear’s own taste and less concerned with the popular objective belief as to what is “good”. Mind you, I still pay attention to critics as an exercise to understand why people like certain types of music and more importantly, what specifically about it that they like but I try to leave it at that. At the end of the day listening to music is a very personal experience and your enjoyment and judgement of that should come completely from yourself and not from whatever the “hot” new thing is out there. Again, I will admit that following blogs and music news growing up led me to think at times that some new band or act was really awesome without initially knowing why but being young and impressionable is a part of life and all you can really do is learn and grow from your experiences. So with that all said and done, I can say that this year’s list was less affected by critics than any other year, partly due to having a solid list done before the December barrage of year end lists and partly due to trusting myself and not worrying so much about how to handle album’s that are clearly great but just don’t resonate with me.

With that all in mind, any album that I listened all the way through and found some enjoyment in would get thrown into the list. At first it is kind of a gut feeling guessing game as to where the album lands but from there the album goes through a constant set of 1 on 1 grudge matches with other albums in proximity to them. It’s just that simple actually. I listen to albums right after another and then decide between them which one I think to be better. Then reorder if necessary and repeat a bazillion times until everything feels relatively ranked appropriately.

As for how to pin point how exactly I decide which album I think to be better, that’s not as easy to explain but I’ll do my best. First of all, I have my own taste predispositions which largely influence what kinds of music I gravitate towards but I like to think that I am open to all kinds of music and that anything really great will stand out, even in a genre I typically don’t dabble in. Well, one thing I have become acutely aware of is that music that speaks to me inspires a certain level of emotion in me. That’s not to say that it’s emotional or necessarily sad music but just that it tickles my brain in a way that makes me think more deeply while also providing a certain amount of euphoria. It’s hard to exactly describe but it’s a certain intangible feeling that you just know when it’s there. And all I can say is that when you have those moments, cherish them, because the really great musical moments don’t come along as often as you might like and as you get older they’re even more difficult to find.

And so with all my musical jargon said and done, let’s get on to the music already! Below you’ll find a mosaic view of my top 100 music release’s album covers in order from 100 down to 1. And if you just want a plain text list to quickly find some names for your latest playlist on spotify, pandora, iTunes, or whatever you use, there’s one at the end of this post too. And of course, don’t just take my word for it (who knows, our tastes may be way off base). Take a few extra minutes to check out and bookmark Metacritic’s comprehensive Music Critic Top 10 lists and be sure to find yourself some musical gems you missed in 2013.

And for the list in written form…

100. Dark Sky – In Brackets [Mister Saturday Night]
99. AlunaGeorge – Body Music [Vagrant/Island]
98. Ulrich Schnauss & Mark Peters – Tomorrow Is Another Day [Bureau B Records]
97. Kailo – Say That Way EP [S/R]
96. Feed Me – Calamari Tuesday [Sotto Voce]
95. Color Plus – Lemon Cycle EP [S/R]
94. Mogwai – Les Revenants Soundtrack [Rock Action]
93. Om Unit – Threads [Civil Music]
92. Various Artists – Pop Ambient 2013 [Kompakt]
91. Sébastien Tellier – Confection [Record Makers]
90. Zomby – With Love [4AD]
89. Pusha T – My Name Is My Name [Def Jam]
88. Wavves – Afraid of Heights [Mom & Pop]
87. Iron & Wine – Ghost on Ghost [4AD]
86. Jay-Z – Magna Carta… Holy Grail [Roc-A-Fella]
85. !!! – THR!!!ER [Warp]
84. Atoms for Peace – AMOK [XL Recordings]
83. Nosaj Thing – Home [Innovative Leisure]
82. Thriftworks – Deviation [Self Released]
81. Cults – Static [Columbia]
80. Kastle – Kastle [Symbols]
79. Cid Rim – Mute City [Lucky Me]
78. Laurel Halo – Chance of Rain [Hyperdub]
77. Burial – Rival Dealer [Hyperdub]
76. Akeda – Born Into This [Self Released]
75. Louis Futon – Alright Alright & Hear/Say [S/R]
74. Arcade Fire – Reflektor [Merge Records]
73. FKA Twigs – EP2 [Young Turks]
72. Pretty Lights – A Color Map of the Sun [8 minutes 20 seconds Records]
71. Mount Kimbie – Cold Spring Fault Less Youth [Warp]
70. Jeremiah Jae – Bad Jokes
69. Tyler, The Creator – Wolf [Odd Future]
68. Kavinsky – Outrun [Ed Banger]
67. Queens of The Stone Age – …Like Clockwork [Matador Records]
66. My Bloody Valentine – m b v [mbv records]
65. MiMOSA – FUTURE TriLL Vol. 1 [False Idol]
64. Sepalcure – Make You EP [Hotflush]
63. Holden – The Inheritors [Border Community]
62. Blondes – Swisher [RVNG Intl.]
61. Kaytranada – Kaytra Todo [HW&W Records]
60. Banks – London EP [Virgin]
59. Julia Holter – Loud City Song [Domino]
58. HAIM – Days Are Gone [Columbia]
57. The Field – Cupid’s Head [Kompakt]
56. James Blake – Overgrown [Republic Records]
55. The Besnard Lakes – Until In Excess, Imperceptible UFO [JagJaguwar]
54. Shlohmo – Laid Out EP [WeDidIt]
53. Junip – Junip [Mute]
52. Quasimoto – Yessir Whatever [Stones Throw]
51. DJ Rashad – Double Cup [Hyperdub]
50. Shigeto – No Better Time Than Now [Ghostly]
49. Daughter – If You Leave [4AD]
48. Emancipator – Dusk to Dawn [Loci Records]
47. Deerhunter – Monomania [4AD]
46. Oh No – Oh No vs. Now-Again 2 [Now Again Records]
45. Justin Timberlake – The 20/20 Experience Pt 1[RCA Records]
44. A$AP Rocky – Long.Live.A$AP [ASAP Worldwide]
43. Darkside – Psychic [Matador / Other People]
42. Washed Out – Paracosm [Sub Pop]
41. Ducktails – The Flower Lane / Wish Hotel [Domino]
40. Classixx – Hanging Gardens [Innovative Leaisure]
39. FKJ – Time For A Change EP [Roche Musique]
38. The Underachievers – Indigoism [DatPiff]
37. Kanye West – Yeezus [Def Jam]
36. Segue – Pacifica [Silent Season]
35. Loscil – Intervalo [Self Released]
34. Giraffage – Needs [Self Released]
33. Tim Hecker – Virgins [Kranky]
32. Oneohtrix Point Never – R Plus Seven [Warp]
31. Machinedrum – Vapor City [Ninjatune]
30. Solar Bears – Supermigration [Planet Mu]
29. Moderat – II [Monkeytown Records]
28. The National – Trouble Will Find Me [4AD]
27. CHVRCHES – The Bones Of What You Believe [Glassnote]
26. Drake – Nothing Was The Same [Cash Money]
25. Earl Sweatshirt – Doris [OFWGKTA]
24. Gold Panda – Half Of Where You Live / Trust EP [Ghostly Int’l]
23. Toro y Moi – Anything In Return [Carpark]
22. Four Tet – Beautiful Rewind [Text]
21. Run The Jewels (El-P & Killer Mike) – Run The Jewels [Fool’s Gold]
20. Ulrich Schnauss – A Long Way To Fall [Scripted Realities]
19. Devendra Banhart – Mala [Nonesuch Records]
18. Boards of Canada – Tomorrow’s Harvest [Warp]
17. Danny Brown – Old [Fool’s Gold]
16. Daft Punk – Random Access Memories [Columbia]
15. Bonobo – The North Borders [Ninjatune]
14. Nils Frahm – Spaces [Erased Tapes]
13. DJ Koze – Amygdala [Pampa]
12. Recondite – Hinterland [Ghostly Int’l]
11. Chance The Rapper – Acid Rap [MTC]
10. High Highs – Open Season [Sony Music]
09. Koreless – Yūgen EP [Young Turks]
08. Phoenix – Bankrupt! [Glassnote]
07. Thundercat – Apocalypse [Brainfeeder]
06. Four Tet – 0181 [Self Released]
05. London Grammar – If You Wait [Metal & Dust]
04. Lapalux – Nostalchic [Brainfeeder]
03. Disclosure – Settle [Island Records]
02. Jon Hopkins – Immunity [Domino]
01. Bibio – Silver Wilkinson [Warp]

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